Exclusive: National tests to be offered in Gaelic

Literacy and numeracy assessments to be offered to Scottish Gaelic schools from August after government investment

Emma Seith

SNP to spend over £1m on new Gaelic tests

The Scottish government will spend more than £1 million over the next three years introducing Gaelic versions of its new literacy and numeracy standardised tests, Tes can reveal.

The goal is that the new tests in Gaelic will be introduced in August at a cost of £1.28 million over three years.

The contract for delivering them has gone to Giglets Limited – a company that up until now has been best known for its e-books and digital education materials.  

As with the tests in English, introduced for the first time in 2017, the Gaelic tests will report progress in reading, writing and numeracy at P1, P4, P7 and S3.

Bruce Robertson is a former interim chief executive and director of education at Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the body responsible for promoting Gaelic in Scotland. He said that demand for the tests had come from Gaelic-medium educationalists who wanted parity of treatment with English-medium education when it came to assessing children’s progress.

The introduction of the tests in the next school year will be the first time standardised tests have been available for use in Gaelic schools, he added.

Mr Robertson said: “The vast majority of those involved in Gaelic education want it to be normalised – they don’t want it to be seen as something different. Therefore the Scottish government’s policy on national assessment should be available for Gaelic-medium learners.”

Tests tailored for Gaelic schools

He added that it was not simply a case of translating the English tests and that bespoke assessments had to be designed.

Mr Robertson continued: “It quickly became obvious a straight translation would not be relevant because children in Gaelic-medium education are taught in a different context and in a different way so they had to be tailored for these children.” 

Almost 4,000 pupils in Scotland are educated in Gaelic – or around 5.8 pupils per 1,000, according to the latest pupil census published in December.

Tes Scotland revealed earlier this year that the new national standardised assessment regime was costing £3.4 million to deliver this year, exceeding original estimates by more than £1 million – and costing more than three times the amount councils used to spend on standardised tests annually.

The tests have also cost a total of £1.2 million to develop, meaning the bill for the literacy and numeracy assessments will hit at least £4.6 million by the end of the school year in July.

The Gaelic tests are likely to add to that bill.

To date, the most controversial aspect of the introduction of the new assessment regime has been the literacy test for pupils in the first year of primary.

An influential group of educationalists – backed by the EIS teaching union – has launched a “Play not Tests” campaign, calling for the P1 tests to be scrapped.

Last week Tes Scotland revealed that the P1 literacy test, which teachers say is too difficult, had left some pupils in tears.


Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

Latest stories